WTI Crude


Brent Crude


Natural Gas




Heating Oil


Rotate device for more commodity prices

Alt Text

Trump And Hillary On Energy: All Noise, No Substance

After the second presidential debate,…

Two Persistent Energy Myths With Attendant Conspiracy Theories

Two Persistent Energy Myths With Attendant Conspiracy Theories

Ah, myths, urban legends and conspiracy theories -- don’t you just love ‘em?

Still, you would think that in this day and age, when information flows more freely than ever before, they would be less prevalent than they were in the pre-Internet days.

But unsubstantiated misinformation and baseless speculation are still freely available, maybe more so, and willful ignorance is nearly as common as unavoidable ignorance once was.

If you really believe that 9/11 was an inside job, that U.S. President Barack Obama is a Kenyan, that man never really walked on the moon, or that the Loch Ness monster and Sasquatch were somehow involved in an international government conspiracy to hide the facts about flying saucers that landed in Roswell, then somebody, somewhere, probably has collected “evidence” that confirms your belief.

The energy sector is not without its own persistent myths -- in fact, certain aspects of the energy field make it ideal for urban legends and crackpot theories. The fabulous riches and enormous power that would accrue to anybody who found a cheap, or better still free, previously undiscovered energy source is the stuff of dreams.

Add in ready-made villains in the form of the big oil companies and governments concerned with the strategic importance of energy, and you have a fertile breeding ground for persistent myths. Let’s look at two common ones.

Perpetual Motion. History is full of scams based on claims to have found a perpetual motion machine. If such a machine could be created, harvesting the energy released, or even “created,” by that motion would provide the world with cheap, eternally renewable energy and the inventor with untold riches. Sounds pretty cool, huh?

The problem is that the existence of such a machine goes against the first two laws of thermodynamics. The first law states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, merely transferred; the second is that the entropy of an isolated system does not decrease. Taken together, these two laws make the existence of a perpetual motion machine impossible.

Of course, the laws of thermodynamics could be wrong and it could be that they have simply not yet been disproven, but people have been trying to disprove those laws and create a perpetual motion machine ever since they were first written about over 150 years ago. So far every attempt has failed. Given a choice between that simple fact and the raving of somebody who rants on a fringe website that a perpetual motion machine already exists but is being hidden by big oil or some international government conspiracy, I know which I will choose.

The Tesla Free Energy Generator. The late 19th and early 20th century inventor, Nikola Tesla, has seen a recent surge in popularity. He is seen by some as a freethinking, brilliant scientist who almost single-handedly paved the way for the modern technological world. This may be somewhat of an exaggeration, but there is no doubt that he filed patents for some significant inventions, such as number 382,280 granted in 1888 for the transmission of electricity by alternating current, or A.C.

Related Article: Eight Energy Myths Explained

The energy myth that surrounds Tesla sprang from a claim he once made that he had invented both a “free energy” machine and a method of transmitting that energy wirelessly. He started working on a generator that, in his words, “would not consume any fuel” in the 1890s. In 1901, he was granted a U.S. patent for an “Apparatus for the Utilization of Radiant Energy,” and by 1931, he was ready to claim that he had invented a machine to harness the power of “cosmic rays.”

That isn’t as ridiculous as it may sound. We have been harnessing the power of cosmic rays from the Sun for years; it’s called solar power. Rather than using the Sun’s direct rays and their heat, however, Tesla’s idea was to link the positive charges in the atmosphere with negative charges in the ground and produce an electric current.

This may be theoretically possible, but most estimates suggest that the amount of energy generated would, in practice, be too small to be of any use. This is where the wacky conspiracy theories start to take over.

Many claim that Tesla’s invention was successful and could have supplied the world with abundant, free energy, but was suppressed by the evil oil industry, or the government, or some other malevolent force. Others claim that it is perfectly possible to produce a machine that would provide the world with “free” energy today, but some giant conspiracy among those governments and corporations exists to deny funding for the necessary research.

Simple logic tells you that this is nonsense. You have only to look at the progression of solar power to see that the energy business, rather than destroying any promising new technology, will seek to own and profit from it. According to this estimate, the French company Total S.A. alone has over $2.4 billion invested in the solar industry.

As for the world’s governments conspiring to prevent the building of such a machine, that requires a belief that these governments can run a supremely effective cover up for decades. In my experience, governments just aren’t that efficient.

It is not that the search for new, innovative means of energy production should stop. While perpetual motion may be theoretically impossible and Tesla’s idea may not produce enough power to be of any practical or commercial use, that doesn’t mean that investigating them can’t result in useful information.

It can – but by the same token, it doesn’t mean that somewhere either, or both, of these things exist and are being kept from a deserving public by a giant conspiracy.

By Martin Tillier of Oilprice.com

Back to homepage

Leave a comment
  • Don on July 29 2014 said:
    I think you said it best here why these ideas continue.

    "You have only to look at the progression of solar power to see that the energy business, rather than destroying any promising new technology, will seek to own and profit from it."

    What would the energy company do with a discovery they could not own or profit from?
  • Jim Western on July 29 2014 said:
    Great article. However, very narrow in coverage of complex is of Free Energy patent suppression. Dr Thomas Valone, a former US Patent Examiner, estimated that patent applications for Free Energy related technology have been suppressed—often for "reasons of national security"—over 3,000 times over the years. Maybe it isn't the oil industry behind this, as you infer, but someone is interested in shelving these patents.
  • danindenver on August 03 2014 said:
    "The problem is that the existence of [a perpetual motion] machine goes against the first two laws of thermodynamics. ... Taken together, these two laws make the existence of a perpetual motion machine impossible."

    So, what?

    The current theory of evolution goes against these same laws and yet many supposedly "scientific" thinkers still believe in evolution and that the universe created itself out of absolutely nothing.
  • Jim on March 07 2015 said:
    It is these kinds of statements fueled by ignorance and gullibility that allow the wool to be pulled over everyone's eyes. Wake up, see and think. Read a book. But please don't write anything more where, by accident or design, you spew disinformation. You are part of the problem, not the solution. Ignorance and suppression of new inventions keeps our human race on planet earth without progress on a path to stagnation and ruin. The patent office works for the existing big corporations, so do the military and secret agencies that keep everyone in line. It galls me everytime I read where somewhere someone quotes a scientific "law" as a fact. They are really just laws because we don't know any better...yet. There are lots of laws now broken by a few but whose new facts cannot emerge because we have closed off those avenues to acceptance. We have built a world we think is free, but in reality our governments have been hi-jacked by corporations in the quest for profits. Those governments make laws to enforce the profit agendas of those same corporations at the expense of the welfare of the citizens and the progress towards a more harmonious living. We aren't citizens anymore, we are, at best, consumers, at worst, owned slaves, all of us. The only way you are going to see positive changes for human beings on this planet is if we tear down this corrupt system and replace it with a citizen driven regime guaranteeing rights and freedoms for everyone together with a responsible way to inventory and administer in a fair way, all of the resources of this planet. In the meantime, I belong to a group of inventors that are working on bringing a mature science of the Aether energies to humanity. We know the patent method is corrupt. We embrace free and open source methods. They have killed off our numbers, but we will win out in the long run. They have fooled us long enough with the lure of fame and fortune. The only fame we seek is in being the executioners of our hidden owners. The only fortune we seek is in the riches of freedom to evolve technologies that we know can exist but are being suppressed. So, ye of little faith and mucho ignorance serve only to piss off the very people trying to save your insignificant ass. Anonymous

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News